Robust data systems, currently beyond the capacity of many developing nations, will be fundamental to ensuring the global adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals. Philanthropy can jump-start that process.
Foundations should take a moment to compare the goals of their work with the SDGs to see whether an opportunity for mutually reinforcing work exists.
In particular, foundations should familiarize themselves with the indicators of change that have been developed to account for progress towards each goal. These are the numbers that the world will be watching to see if progress is being made, and they will quickly become one of the most important yardsticks against which the impact of any foundation working in an area related to the SDGs will be measured.
How will philanthropy, or any other investor for that matter, know whether they are making progress against these or any other yardsticks? By building robust data collection systems and methods for regularly collecting high quality data on what has been invested, how the funds were deployed, and what results were achieved. Of course, this is much easier said than done.